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Federal agents raid Woburn defense firm

An agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation entered Agiltron in Woburn. A team of federal agents and local police, in an apparent investigation, searched Wednesday the premises of a Woburn manufacturing company that has military contracts.

Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

An agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation entered Agiltron in Woburn. A team of federal agents and local police, in an apparent investigation, searched Wednesday the premises of a Woburn manufacturing company that has military contracts.

A team of federal agents and local police, in an apparent investigation, searched Wednesday the premises of a Woburn manufacturing company that has military contracts.

The officials would not identify the scope of the investigation at the Agiltron Inc. plant on Presidential Way, saying only that there is no threat to public safety.

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The FBI and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement were involved in the raid, working with other agencies, ­although officials said the raid was not related to an immigration matter.

No arrests were reported. But the search of the company, which manufactures photonic components and systems and employs more than 100 people, set off speculation about the ­nature of the inquiry.

The company describes itself on its website as a provider of industry-leading “optical communication and sensing ­solutions” and has had contracts with the Pentagon and the Department of Energy.

In 2008, Professor Michael Rubner of MIT worked with researchers from Agiltron on a NASA project to develop a special coating for advanced telescope lenses. But Rubner said he had limited exposure to the company’s other technology, and the project he worked on was far from being a highly ­secret or sensitive endeavor.

Much of the advanced optics technology that Agiltron specializes in falls under federal export regulations limiting the kind of hardware and software that can be shipped or sold overseas, said Thomas Bifano, director of the Boston University Photonics Center. Those limits apply especially to technologies with military applications.

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One official with knowledge of the investigation said the inves­tigation is related to those federal regulations.

Agiltron is not particularly well known in the Boston-area technology community. It was founded in 2001 by Dr. Jing Zhao, a former executive with Corning Inc., and over the years amassed a team that includes more than 50 doctoral-level scientists with specialties in such fields as advanced fiber optics and nanotechnology.

In 2011, the company moved into a new facility to accommodate the growing demand for its sophisticated optical components. Since 2003, it received more than $65 million in federal grants.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia @globe.com. Michael B. Farrell can be reached at michael.
farrell@globe.com
.

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